Punjab will not be able to share its limited water resource with other states, said state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar on Tuesday, asserting that its first responsibility is towards its own people, particularly farmers. Jakhar was reacting to the BJP's Haryana unit president O P Dhankar's remarks over the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal issue that Punjab owed it to Haryana's farmers to give them their due.
Political will can not supersede the interest of Punjab's people, Jakhar said in a statement. The Congress government led by Amarinder Singh had never shirked its humanitarian responsibility but the acute water crisis faced by the state prevented it from sharing its water resources with any other state, he said.
The Punjab Congress president said as per the riparian principle, it was Punjab and its farmers who had the first right on waters of rivers flowing through the state. Any violation of the riparian principle would not only be against the law but also unjust to people of Punjab, he added.
Pointing out that the CM had been repeatedly asking for a fresh assessment of Punjab's water availability in Beas and Ravi rivers, Jakhar said such a reassessment would make the ground situation clear and would endorse Punjab's stand on the SYL issue. While the Punjab government had no objections to a negotiated settlement on the issue, any discussion would have to take into account the situation on the ground, he said.
SYL has been a contentious issue between Punjab and Haryana. Punjab has been demanding a reassessment of the Ravi-Beas river waters' volume while Haryana has been seeking completion of the SYL canal to get its share of 3.5 million acre-feet of the river waters.